A good winner today – The Quarterjack got home at Southwell to land the 2m Handicap. He did that really nicely after a tough battle down the home straight. Missed a perfect day unfortunately. Empress Ali ran well but could only manage 2nd place.
7.10 Kempton: Listed Race, 1m 4f
Excellent Listed contest on Kempton’s All-Weather track for a Wednesday night. Last years winner Grendisar is back to defend his crown and he can’t be faulted. He’s a classy individual on the synthetics who loves the trip and the track. In fact in ten starts at Kempton he has never been out of the money.
What speaks against him? His running style can be reason for concern. Grendisar travelles strongly but need to things fall right. He got that often enough last season but if they don’t go overly mad in front here it might be difficult to peg back one or two who get first run. He’s a very short price and his last two performances in recent weeks don’t instil too much confidence.
Grendisar will renew his feud with Fire Fighting. The Mark Johnston inmate was a close runner-up in this very same race last year but beat this rival at Chelmsford last month. He went on to land a good Listed contest at Dundalk over 11f. A mightily impressive performance.
He goes up to 12f again, a trip that can stretch his stamina to the absolute limit. He also has had an awful lot of racing and has to give weight away due his recent success – it’s a pretty tough task in my mind, nonetheless he has the class to overcome all these obstacles.
I really like Missed Call’s chance. She progressed nicely this year from winning a Class 3 Handicap at Ascot to finishing runner-up in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes. I also feel she has a nice chance on the weights here. Question mark is, despite having winning form over 12f, the trip, though. It stretches her stamina to a maxium and there is the fear that others will outstay her in this very deep contest.
Stamina concerns hanging over In The Fast Lane as well. As a lover of South African racing I’m happy to see this former winner of the Grade 1 Woolavington Stakes now racing in the UK. The mare is classy on her day, but has serious question marks about the trip. And not only that.
Due her transfer to the UK she had a very long break, for that impressed on her comeback run at Chelmsford in September, but then completely bombed out subsequently. So it’s hard to know what we get from her.
Sweet P is undoubtedly a very progressive filly who also seems to enjoy the All-Weather. Nonetheless, despite presenting herself in top form lately, she has to progress big time to land this race. Which is not impossible, given she tries the 12f trip only for the third time in her career.
You can’t leave out of the equation progressive handicapper Dartmouth. The ground was maybe too soft when we saw him the last time, but up until then he won three of his five starts in 2015. More improvement is required here now, with the All-Weather being an unknown. I’m not sure if this test is what he wants, but he is unlikely to be far away if he can translate his turf form to the polytrack.
However I’m completely sold to Hamelin. I really like his profile. He’s got not too many miles on the clock for a five year old, had only three starts this year and has previous course and distance form. He also has been in impressive lately when landing a competitive class 3 Handicap at Wolverhampton.
He was a bit off at the start but was soon rushed forward from his wide draw to lead the field. It’s true that he wasn’t particularly hard pressed, but those early antics at the start must have cost loads of energy. It was impressive to see how he kicked on from three furlongs out and had the whole field quickly on the stretch.
Yes, more is required here in this race and the weights aren’t exactly favouring him – but he has the profile of an improving horse and could easily have more to offer. He will have to, obviously, but if he can find some improvement, he has to rate a top danger for the others.
Hamelin @ 9/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win